Tag Archives: trash

U.N. Report: Our Oceans are Trashed with Plastic!

indonesia Man walks beside the scattered plastic trash brought in by the waves at Kuta Beach in Indonesia.

–  A series of new reports are raising concerns about the damage plastic waste is doing to oceans — harming marine animals, destroying sensitive ecosystems, and contaminating the fish we eat.

   The United Nations Environment Programme, as well as the NGOsGlobal Ocean Commission and Plastic Disclosure Project, released reports on Monday ringing the alarm bell about the environmental impact of debris on marine life.

   Plastic waste in oceans is causing $13 billion of damage each year, according to the UNEP report, and that figure could be much higher. Worldwide plastic production is projected to reach 33 billion tons by 2050, and plastic makes up 80% of litter on oceans and shorelines.

   “Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release.

   Ten to 20 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, from litter, runoff from poorly managed landfills, and other sources. Once it’s in the water, plastic does not degrade but instead breaks into smaller pieces and swirls in massive ocean gyres, creating soupy surfaces peppered with the material.

   Scientists are especially worried about the growing prevalence of tiny microplastics which are smaller than 5 millimeters. These include microbeads, which are used in toothpaste, gels, facial cleansers and other consumer goods. Microplastics aren’t filtered by sewage treatment plants, and can be ingested by marine animals with deadly effect.

   Ocean debris isn’t just an environmental issue — it also complicated the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 earlier this year, as floating debris confused satellite images.

What can be done?

   “It’s not just an ocean problem, it’s a business and a municipal issue,” Woodring said. “The ocean is just downstream of our activities. The real solution is upstream at the producer and user end.”

   Governments can help solve the problem by regulating the use of plastics and creating infrastructure to recycle them. For example, dozens of nations have banned plastic bags at supermarkets or restricted their use.

   That’s a “good start,” said Ada Kong, a campaigner at Greenpeace. But they can go further, she said. “Governments should enforce laws to regulate the cosmetic manufactures to label the ingredients (of consumer goods), including all the microplastics.”

   The general public can also be conscious about their plastic footprint by simply purchasing goods without a lot of excess plastic packaging. People should also separate their plastic from other waste and recycle it, Woodring said.

From waste to resource

   Companies that produce plastic goods have perhaps the biggest opportunity to make a difference, Woodring said. They can engage their customers with rebate or deposit programs, giving them incentives to bring back plastic for recycling.

   “Everything from bottles to food packaging can be made from recycled plastic,” Woodring said. “The technology is there today to reuse it.”

   His organization is hosting a “Plasticity Forum” in New York City on Tuesday featuring presentations about how to creatively reuse plastic.

   Plastic isn’t just waste — it’s “a valuable material, pound-for-pound worth more than steel, and we’re just not capitalizing on it today,” Woodring said.

   The new reports come on the eve of the first-ever United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, a forum for environmental ministers, scientists, and others to discuss strategies to combat climate change and other environmental problems. An ocean conference hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C. last week also focused on marine pollution.

   Perhaps the greatest sign of the problem is the rapidly-growing Great Pacific Trash Patch, a massive sheet plastic and other debris that circles in a gyre across the ocean.

-Article compliments of Daojun Wu (CNN)-

 

Tell Trader Joe’s parent company to stop killing whales with plastic waste!

whale plastic belly

Link to the petition (click here): Online Petition – http://action.sumofus.org/a/sperm-whale-plastic-tesco/4/2/?sub=fb Click on it, and sign it, please.

A sperm whale that washed up in Spain died after swallowing almost 60 different pieces of plastic dumped by the greenhouses that supply Trader Joe’s parent company, Aldi.

This 4.5 tonne whale was defeated by 17 kg of plastic waste, including two dozen sections of the transparent sheeting used to cover industrial greenhouses. There’s no excuse for Aldi’s failure to ensure their suppliers recycle and safely dispose of their deadly waste — but as long as they’re given a free pass, plastic will continue to swamp our oceans each year, and more whales will die.

Tell Trader Joe’s parent company to make sure their greenhouses recycle or safely dispose of their waste.

Only about 1,000 sperm whales are left in the Mediterranean, and they feed near waters flooded by the greenhouse industry. Acre after acre of farmland in southern Spain is covered in reams of plastic sheeting to produce the perfect growing conditions for year round fruit and vegetables. Due to poor waste disposal, this plastic ends up floating in the Mediterranean.

Now these whales are under threat from swallowing huge quantities of non-degradable plastics. If we lose the whales, we disable an entire ecosystem — and all because grocery stores are too lazy to monitor their suppliers.

Our supermarket chains could easily ensure that plastics used to grow our fruit and vegetables are disposed of correctly and recycled. But so far, they are walking away and counting their profits — and as they do, our oceans and seas are dying. Let’s not let another whale die from too much plastic.

Tell Aldi to clean up their supply chains and stop their suppliers from dumping toxic plastics in to the Mediterranean.

This isn’t the first time we’ve taken on the big supermarket chains. We came together to take on the might of Tesco in the UK when it was electronically tagging its workers, and we won a landmark campaign in the US demanding that Trader Joe’s help farm workers get paid a fair wage. Now we need to come together and take on grocery stores and demand they help save the whales.